Looking back, Tasneem Khokha, ’02, sees law school as a constellation of moments—little beadlets of light that ultimately illuminated a defining revelation: people and relationships are everything, in life and in law.
In the beginning, those moments were the building blocks of friendships that emerged quickly and intensely amid the growing pains of 1L year: Khokha and her classmates forged bonds as they absorbed hundreds of pages a night, anticipated their first cold calls, and learned to swim in what felt like the deepest end of the pool. Later, there were one-on-one conversations with professors, debates with her peers in Green Lounge, and small acts of kindness and camaraderie that provided an emotional girding as she stretched herself intellectually.
When her dad got sick, her Law School friends offered her their notes; they knew she’d had a good reason for missing class. “Those relationships really showed themselves in those moments,” Khokha said.
Interpersonal rapport provided extra layers in the classroom, too. She once took a voting rights class from an Illinois state senator (and future US president) after having worked on his losing congressional primary campaign, a juxtaposition that led her to engage with the material in a deeper way.
“I remember taking Professor Obama’s voting rights class [after] having worked on his congressional campaign against Bobby Rush, and then sitting in the classroom with him learning about redistricting and gerrymandering,” Khokha said. “Those things came together in such a neat way.”
When she became a lawyer, Khokha became convinced that interpersonal connection wasn’t just the key to learning, but the key to professional success. Ultimately, she came to love teaching these values and skills to others, too, and made it the focal point of her career, moving into marketing and then business development coaching. Now, as the managing director of GrowthPlay, a sales effectiveness consulting firm, she helps lawyers and other professionals grow their revenue by building relationships that are rooted in genuine care and concern.
“The Law School taught me that law is a relationship-driven business, and that is the underlying principle that informs all the work I do,” Khokha said.
She often advises her clients to operate from a place of generosity, building real connections with people before they want something from them.
“The only thing I wanted out of [my Law School classmates] was their camaraderie during those late nights—that and lots of coffee and pizza,” she said. “We had that purity of relationship that we were able to create through a shared experience, and I often advise my clients to do that very thing in their relationships. … In showing people that you’re committed to their well-being, to their success, [you] build loyalty, [you] build trust—and ultimately it’s that loyalty and trust that supports the creation of a business relationship.”
As for her Law School friendships, Khokha said they have strengthened over time.
“The further away from the Law School we get, the tighter those bonds … become,” she said. “We’ve gone through life events together: having children, getting married, having parents get sick and die, all of those kinds of things. We’ve done life together. … [In some cases], they’ve become not only personal relationships but … business relationships—and it’s always fun to do business with old friends. They’ve really continued to be a strong presence in my life.”
My Chicago Law Moment is a series highlighting the Law School ideas and experiences that continue to resonate after graduation. Video produced by Will Anderson, Senior Manager of Electronic Communications.